news from the lab 2016


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Earth Sciences - Physics - 13.04.2016
Bubbles lead to disaster
Bubbles lead to disaster
Why are volcanologists interested in vapour bubbles? Because they can accumulate in a magma reservoir underneath a volcano, priming it to explode.

Life Sciences - Psychology - 12.04.2016
How the brain produces consciousness in
How the brain produces consciousness in "time slices"
12. EPFL scientists propose a new way of understanding of how the brain processes unconscious information into our consciousness. According to the model, consciousness arises only in time intervals of up to 400 milliseconds, with gaps of unconsciousness in between. The driver ahead suddenly stops, and you find yourself stomping on your breaks before you even realize what is going on.

Environment - Life Sciences - 12.04.2016
City Moths Avoid the Light
City Moths Avoid the Light
Moths and other nocturnal insects are attracted by artificial light sources. Swiss zoologist study how this behavior differst in animals from areas with high and low light pollution (Image: A. Bieger). The globally increasing light pollution has negative effects on organisms and entire ecosystems.

Physics - Chemistry - 12.04.2016
Three-way battles in the quantum world
Three-way battles in the quantum world
In phase transitions, for instance between water and water vapour, the motional energy competes with the attractive energy between neighbouring molecules.

Physics - Chemistry - 08.04.2016
A single ion impacts a million water molecules
A single ion impacts a million water molecules
08. EPFL researchers have found that water molecules are 10,000 times more responsive to ions than previously thought. Water is simple and complex at the same time. A single water molecule (H2O) is made up of only 3 atoms. Yet the collective behavior of water molecules is unique and continues to amaze us.

Astronomy / Space Science - Physics - 07.04.2016
Planet 9 takes shape
Planet 9 takes shape
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Astrophysicists at the University of Bern have modelled the evolution of the putative planet in the outer solar system.

Innovation - 06.04.2016
Graphene is both transparent and opaque to radiation
Graphene is both transparent and opaque to radiation
06. A microchip that filters out unwanted radiation with the help of graphene has been developed by scientists from the EPFL and tested by researchers of the University of Geneva (UNIGE). The invention could be used in future devices to transmit wireless data ten times faster. EPFL and UNIGE scientists have developed a microchip using graphene that could help wireless tele share data at a rate that is ten times faster than currently possible.

Innovation - 04.04.2016
Ski design inspired by turtle scales
Ski design inspired by turtle scales
04. These alpine skis change stiffness in response to the skier's position. EPFL researchers helped develop the new skis thanks to a mechanism that mimics turtle scales.

Chemistry - Physics - 01.04.2016
Artificial molecules
Artificial molecules
A new method allows scientists at ETH Zurich and IBM to fabricate artificial molecules out of different types of microspheres. The researchers would like to one day use such tiny objects in micro-robots, for photonics and basic biochemical research. Scientists at ETH Zurich and IBM Research Zurich have developed a new technique that enables for the first time the manufacture of complexly structured tiny objects joining together microspheres.

Innovation - Civil Engineering - 01.04.2016
A wooden roof without beams for the cantonal parliament in Lausanne
A wooden roof without beams for the cantonal parliament in Lausanne
01. All wood, no beams: the cantonal parliament in Lausanne, which is currently being rehabilitated, will be roofed using new wood construction technology researched and developed at EPFL.

Computer Science - Microtechnics - 30.03.2016
Open-source microprocessor
Open-source microprocessor
In future, it will be easier and cheaper for developers at universities and SMEs to build wearable microelectronic devices and chips for the Internet of Things, thanks to the PULPino open-source processor, which has been developed at ETH Zurich and the University of Bologna.

Life Sciences - 29.03.2016
Predators drive social complexity
Predators drive social complexity
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Variation in social organization and behavior of of highly social animals like cichlids is primarily explained by predation risk and related ecological factors.

Physics - Materials Science - 28.03.2016
Revealing the ion transport at nanoscale
Revealing the ion transport at nanoscale
28. EPFL researchers have shown that a law of physics having to do with electron transport at nanoscale can also be analogously applied to the ion transport. This discovery provides insight into a key aspect of how ion channels function within our living cells. The membrane of all human cells contains tiny channels through which ions pass through at high speed.

Physics - Chemistry - 24.03.2016
Graphene nanoribbons: it's all about the
Graphene nanoribbons: it’s all about the
As reported by the journal Nature in its latest issue, researchers from Empa, the Max Planck Institute in Mainz and the Technical University of Dresden have for the first time succeeded in producing graphene nanoribbons with perfect zigzag edges from molecules. Electrons on these zigzag edges exhibit different (and coupled) rotational directions ("spin").

Physics - Materials Science - 23.03.2016
An innovative device studies gold nanoparticles in depth
An innovative device studies gold nanoparticles in depth
23. EPFL researchers have developed a way to explore and optimize gold nanoparticles, which are used in medicine, biology and solar cells. Artists have used gold nanoparticles for centuries, because they produce vibrant colors when sunlight hits them. Their unique optical-electronics properties have put gold nanoparticles at the center of research, solar cells, sensors, chemotherapy, drug delivery, biological and medical applications, and electronic conductors.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 22.03.2016
Monitoring greenhouse gas emissions independently
Monitoring greenhouse gas emissions independently
Mistakes can happen when estimating emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Researchers funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation have developed a method to independently validate national statistics. The signatory countries of the Kyoto Protocol and the new Paris Agreement have committed to reduce global warming.

Computer Science - Environment - 21.03.2016
Human eyes assist drones, teach machines to see
Human eyes assist drones, teach machines to see
21. Drone images accumulate much faster than they can be analyzed. Researchers have developed a new approach that combines crowdsourcing and machine learning to speed up the process. Who would win in a real-life game of "Where's Waldo," humans or computers? A recent study suggests that when speed and accuracy are critical, an approach combing both human and machine intelligence would take the prize.

Pharmacology - Health - 18.03.2016
Paracetamol is not more effective than placebo against osteoarthritis pain
Paracetamol is not more effective than placebo against osteoarthritis pain
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Paracetamol did not show any clinically relevant efficacy in the most comprehensive analysis of pain relievers among patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis to date. In contrast, the medicine diclofenac is more effective than many newer pain relievers on the market.

Life Sciences - Health - 18.03.2016
Brain to foot: come in, foot!
Brain to foot: come in, foot!
Injuries to the spinal cord partially or completely disrupt the neural pathways between the brain and the limbs. The consequences for the representation of the affected limbs in the brain can be drastic. ETH researchers have now measured how severely this representation is affected. A strange sensation, but familiar to anyone who has ever been given local anaesthesia and watched while a doctor operated on their leg or arm: in that moment, your own body part seems foreign, as if it doesn't belong to your body.

Life Sciences - Health - 17.03.2016
An implant to prevent Alzheimer's
An implant to prevent Alzheimer's
17. In a cutting-edge treatment for Alzheimer's disease, EPFL scientists have developed an implantable capsule that can turn the patient's immune system against the disease.
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